The Military Industrial Complex had a terrible week. Here are 9 stories:
A Federal Court in California ruled “national security letters” (NSL) unconstitutional in violation of the first amendment. “To issue an NSL, a supervisor need only certify that the records sought are relevant to an authorized national security investigation. No warrant is required. FBI officials have said that such flexibility, granted in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks, is crucial to preventing future attacks.” The FBI averages 50,000 NSL requests per year.
The Obama Administration is preparing new policies that would give the CIA and the NSA broad new powers to access Americans’ financial records, according to Reuters. The proposed change represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.
The US will once again ignore UN violations. “As a matter of international law, the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan is … being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate Government of the State,” Ben Emmerson said in a statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
The U.N. Human Rights Council asked Emmerson to start an investigation of the drone attacks following requests by countries including Pakistan, Russia and China.
Staff Sgt. Eddy Soto at Lackland Air Force Base segued directly into the sentencing phase Saturday. He could get up to life imprisonment without parole. In all, 32 Lackland instructors have been investigated, with six convicted of misconduct. Investigators say more than 40 women had inappropriate contact with instructors, were sexually harassed or raped.
According to the Pentagon, approximately 19,000 sexual assaults occur in the military each year and of that 19,000, about 16,600 go unreported because victims fear retaliation, ostracism or a fallout. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand told them “I think this is an instance where, this isn’t anything new, there’s been sexual assaults in the military for a very long time. In fact more sexual assaults against men and than women. It is such an issue that is crying out for unbelievable reform, oversight and accountability. And it’s heartbreaking.”
A decade of war in Iraq has killed roughly 134,000 Iraqi civilians and potentially contributed to the deaths of many hundreds of thousands more, according to researchers at Brown University. Their report was released ahead of the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003. It says the Iraq war has cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion, including $500 billion in benefits owed to veterans. The report says the war has devastated rather than helped Iraq, spurring militant violence, setting back women’s rights and hurting the healthcare system. Most of the more than $200 billion supposedly set aside for reconstruction in Iraq was actually used for security or lost amid rampant fraud and waste. Some previous reports have put the death toll in Iraq significantly higher. A 2006 report published in The Lancet by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found 655,000 people had died in the first 40 months of the war both from violence and indirect causes related to the devastated infrastructure.
There has been a massive hunger strike going on in Guantanamo Bay and the mainstream media has been completely silent. 100+ out of roughly 166 prisoners are taking part in a hunger strike which are leaving most sick and some on the verge of death. They are protesting, among many things, indefinite detention and deteriorating conditions.
The Pentagon announced Friday it will spend $1 billion to add 14 interceptors to a West Coast-based missile defense system, responding to what it called faster-than-anticipated North Korean progress on nuclear weapons and missiles. As if we weren’t spending enough money on phantom menaces.
Two police officers shot a 16 year old boy in the back and 4 days of protests erupted and rumors of Marshall Law spread around the internet. The two police officers who shot and killed the boy have been sued several times for alleged civil rights violations, the Daily News reported Saturday.
The city has paid $215,000 to settle three lawsuits against Sgt. Mourad Mourad and two against officer Jovaniel Cordova, the newspaper reported.